Navanethem Pillay (Tamil: நவநீதம் பிள்ளை, born 1941; also called Navi Pillay) is the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. A South African, she was the first non-white woman on the High Court of South Africa, and she has also served as a judge of the International Criminal Court and President of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. Her four-year term as High Commissioner for Human Rights began on 1 September 2008.
Pillay was born in 1941 in a poor neighbourhood of Durban, South Africa. She is of Tamil descent and her father was a bus driver. She married Gaby Pillay, a lawyer, in January 1965.
Supported by her local Indian community with donations, she graduated from the University of Natal with a BA in 1963 and an LLB in 1965. She later attended Harvard Law School, obtaining an LLM in 1982 and a Doctor of Juridical Science degree in 1988.